By Khan Osman Sulaiman
Othman Wok has passed away. In my community, many believe that we cannot talk about the dead. I disagree. Strongly.
The belief that we cannot talk about a dead man past has its roots from Islamic teachings that forbid anyone to air out a dead man’s shameful/disgraceful past. This, I agree.
But what many would do the moment we tried to discuss about a man’s past, his beliefs, his stand, his deeds, his contributions, his ideology and his political leaning, we are swiftly reminded not to talk about it even if it has nothing to do with exposing of the dead man past.
As with Othman Wok, many would know about the infamous words he uttered on the burning of the corpses. Many also would know of his loyalty to late Mr Lee Kuan Yew.
When speaking about this, I dont think this is shaming the man for bringing back what he said before because Othman Wok still stands by it and has never apologized nor is he ever contrite for his words.
Othman Wok was the de facto leader of the Malay community by virtue of being appointed a minister in the 60s and 70s. As a leader back then, we should be allowed to study and discuss his actions and contributions as it has bearings on how our community socio-cultural environment developed.
We can see the mainstream media pouring praises on Othman Wok. Are we then not allowed to counter with facts on his actions? If we take on the line not to discuss a dead man past, we would never have known how evil Hitler and Saddam was.
No, we are not shaming or airing out his personal details and discretion, but rather to visit history and discuss the impact he, Othman Wok has contributed based on his actions and words.
Othman Wok was never a leader to me. In fact, it was during his time as a minister, policies that were detrimental to my community went unchallenged, passed without much fun fare that ultimately, led to a whole generation of my community to be weakened economically.
It shaped the political environment my community faced today. Because whatever we fight today, we fight for our future generation. He, Othman Wok never fought for us. He acquiesced and was complicit with the gov questionable act.
As a Muslim, I pray for his well-being in the afterlife. May god bless his soul.
But In this life, I cannot put him on a pedestal.